Organizing the Biblical Narrative for Easy Memorization

The following is an exercise that I have utilized several times to gauge my students present an understanding of the Biblical narrative.  According to Barna’s report on spiritual growth in 2017, millennials reported Bible reading as the most important spiritual discipline, but less than 30% noted any reading in a previous month.  I would put forth that in my experience, there is a high level of Biblical illiteracy in every generation.  This issue is something our Church leaders need to address with a more intentional approach.

The tool I use is a simple ten-name framework – five Old Testament individuals and five New Testament individuals.  From each of these names, different narratives and doctrines are attached for more natural referencing and deeper dives into the work of God across history.  To begin, I have my audience try to name five individuals from each group, so that signify the crucial changes in the story.  We then go through them and my suggestions.  So, here are the following names I use to tell the Bible story and some of the doctrines and other narratives attached to them.

Old Testament


Creation, Marriage, The Fall


The flood, Covenant, Righteousness


Covenant, Faith, Patriarchs and Israel, Salvation by Faith


Slavery in Egypt, Exodus, The Law, The Promise Land, Judges


History of the Kingdoms, the Messiah and David’s throne, the devils attempt to destroy the seed of David on the throne through exile and corruption.

New Testament

John the Baptist

The last Old Testament prophet who reminded the people of the promises of God and provided the final connection to the coming Messiah.

Jesus Christ

Everything the Scripture points toward.  The Gospel and all that includes.  Need I say more?


Represents the early church and its growth and struggles.  The day of Pentecost and living under the Holy Spirit.  Begins the transition from grace centered on the Jewish population toward the inclusion to the Gentiles.


The apostle to the larger Gentile world.  Furthered the expansion of the church, its organization, and practical theology.

John the Beloved

Brings closure to the New Testament by pointing forward to life under the victorious Christ in uncertain times for an undetermined period.  Demonstrates that God is still on the throne, and Christ will make all things right.

Help for Sunday School Teachers

Whether you teach youth or adults, I believe these following points will provide some guidance on how to improve your ability as a Bible teacher.

Be early

There is much to be said about punctuality in all areas of life.  However, when you are the Sunday School teacher, being early is very important.  The room needs to be ready for students and your materials set out.  If you arrive after class has started, it takes away from the quality of the lesson since you have less time and will be in a rush.

Be prepared

Closely connected to earliness is to readiness.  One helps lead to the other.  However, the difference lies in preparation to teach.  You need to know your lesson.  Second Timothy 2:15 reads, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  The topic and outline covered should be familiar to you because of preparation.  In fact, the more you have prepared, the less you will get off topic and the less you will have to read from your notes.

Be resourceful

Using a variety of tone in speeches is essential.  It is also crucial to use a variety of teaching methods.  I prefer lectures, but not everyone does.  It is necessary to use the resources available to you when teaching the Bible lesson.  Different teaching methods and tools will make the lesson more productive to the learners.

Be present

Silence your cell phone.  Yes, the teacher needs to be respectful to the students by giving them their full attention.  However, the Holy Spirit also needs to be followed, and this only happens in a Sunday School Class when the leader is fully present.  Watch for those wrestling with the Spirit for more in-depth understanding or other moves of God.  If you have prepared the lesson well, you will be able to address those issues that may be off topic without fear of how to get back on topic later.  Remember, we are not aiming to merely give information but instead lead the students to transformation.